Q. How long does a hike take? A. It depends…helpful eh!
The average speed varies based on several factors, including the weather, steepness and ruggedness of the terrain, fitness level, and other obstacles en route (crossing streams or similar).
An average hiking speed on flat surfaces is in the region of 2.5-4 miles per hour, which is useful information to help gauge the length of time needed to complete a particular hike.
Here are five points that will influence your hiking speed:
A hiker with great cardiovascular fitness is certain to perform better on the trails. A hiker at 165-lbs has the potential to burn about 425 calories per 60 minutes, which increases to 550 calories if there is a heavy pack in place.
Hiking with a pack can make this physical activity similar to running in relation to level of exertion. Lack of conditioning on the trails can soon leave a hiker with exhaustion and burning lungs.
A first-time hiker should start with the flat, short trails and gradually progress to the steep, long paths. Take breaks at regular intervals to get the breath break and rest tired limbs.
Load up with enough water to stay well-hydrated while out on the trails. Dehydration will not only slow the hiking pace but can lead to much more serious problems.
The same applies to food, you must ensure you eat enough food to power you throughout your hike. Pack enough concentrated calorie snacks (dried fruits, nuts, etc.) to last the distance.
A day-hiker traveling light with just the must-have essentials will be moving at a faster pace than the hiker on a multi-day trip and loaded with sleeping and cooking supplies.
The fitness level will influence the weight carried in the back. Plus, a rule for the pack load is less than 15% of body weight for the day-hiking and less than 30% for the multi-day hiker.
For more efficient progress on the trail, it is essential to pack the daypack or backpack properly to avoid balance issues. A pack with poor load distribution is certain to make progress more difficult, especially over difficult or elevated terrain.
Plus, the pack that isn’t well-packed is more likely to rub and chafe. A preferred set-up has the day-pack sitting comfort with the weight spread across the hips.
Hiking poles can provide several advantages when traveling across the most difficult terrain. Use the poles for a better propulsive force which makes it easier to hike at a faster pace.
Plus, these poles are a practical piece of equipment when hiking over the slippery or rough terrain to facilitate proper traction and balance. Stress to the joints is a further reason to use the trekking pole.
Less stress and impact is noticed by the joints on a downhill hike, which means the ability to increase the hiking speed and enhance your comfort.
The hiking pace on the easy rated trails with flat surface is a far sight more efficient compared to hiking up or downhill. Hiking uphill can slow the speed to as little as 1 mile per hour. Terrain difficulty is quite similar with uphill and downhill hiking.
Downhill hiking has the need to focus more to ensure safe and secure footing. Plus, moving downhill puts extra stress on the joints (hip, knee, ankles), which is increased when hiking with a heavy load on the back.
Sandy or muddy hiking conditions are able to further slow the hike because it is more difficult to propel the body forward.
Matt Green, is an avid hiker and lover of the great outdoors. He is always planning his next big trip or hitting the trails for a solo hike.
He’s traveled extensively to many remote regions and has plenty of experience exploring various terrains, and stories to tell.